Choosing your ecommerce platform carefully is one of the most important things you’ll do to get your business properly established. Developing your site from a blank screen used to be the only choice in this regard. However, ecommerce templates have made DIY website building a less than advantageous choice.
Sure, building a site from scratch gives you the ultimate in customization, but it’s also expensive and time-consuming. Meanwhile, today’s ready-made ecommerce platforms offer a large degree of customization, plus they’re already set up with pretty much everything you could possibly need to run your business.
But, how do you go about choosing the right one?
Many providers try to lure you in with “free” offers. However, underneath those offers will be hosting fees, renewal fees, tech support fees and several others. When you’re evaluating a platform, avoid getting sucked into the free offer, take some time to look at all the costs of working with each provider, balancing their hosting prices against the services they provide. Limited-time free offers can still be helpful, but it shouldn’t be your sole consideration.
Will The Ecommerce Platform Scale?
In business, if you aren’t growing you’re shrinking. This is because there’s always a hot new upstart trying to nibble away at your market share. When you’re evaluating platforms, try to get a sense of how easy it will be to grow the capabilities of the site as your business expands. More business will mean more traffic, which means you’ll need more bandwidth if your site is going to accommodate an influx of customers.
Long story short, always consider your future needs. Further, you’ll need to consider your administrative needs, inventory management, accounting, and other administrative functions should be easy to accomplish, with minimal training and support. You’ll also need the platform to keep track of performance statistics such as website traffic, unique visitors, sales revenues, referring sites and the like.
If you’re going to stand out among your competitors, you’ll need to project a distinctive identity. The best ecommerce platforms take this into consideration and offer you the capability of tailoring their look to your preferences. This is also key to establishing trustworthiness and professionalism.
The best platforms will accommodate your branding elements so the finished store looks uniquely your own. Additionally, how well will the design accommodate your products? You want the most flexibility you can get while maintaining ease of use.
Consider The User Experience
Everything you do to make your site easier to navigate will move your visitors closer to making purchases. Any stumbling blocks they encounter tend to have the opposite effect. You want a site with a robust search function, an easy to navigate design and a look that is both inviting and intuitive for your customers.
Think of it this way: When you walk into a store where things are in disarray, you’re less inclined to buy. The same thing happens on the screen. Further, the platform should embrace responsive design, so it works just as well in a mobile environment as it does on the desktop.
You’re going to be asking shoppers to provide credit card numbers and personally identifiable information to complete their transactions. Your site, as well as your hosting service, will need to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards before you’ll be permitted to accept major credit cards.
You’ll also want to make sure the platform you choose will support Transport Layer Security encryption to protect your customers’ information between your server and their browsers.
Payment Method Compatibility
The platform should be compatible with a broad range of payment methods, both traditional and electronic. If you’re planning to business internationally, you’ll also want currency conversion functionality—all in the most secure environment possible. By the way, the best ecommerce platforms secure every page of the site. Many try to cut corners by securing only the payment pages, but this leaves the rest of the site vulnerable to intrusion.
Customer Service/Technical Support
Problems happen. When they do, you’ll be glad you’re with a provider offering tech support 24/7/365. After all, when bad things happen it’s usually in the wee small hours of the morning. Most providers will charge extra for this level of service, so you’ll need to get a good idea of what to expect to pay.
SEO Capabilities/Marketing Features
The best platforms provide promotional tools such as blogs, integration with social networks and baked-in SEO features. They also let you offer coupons, discounts, and gift cards, along with the capability of sending email newsletters to potential customers.
As you can see, choosing an ecommerce platform is easily one of the most important decisions you’ll make when establishing your online business. However, following these guidelines will definitely help you make the best choice for your situation.
If you are interested in even more ecommerce-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.